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The Indian Art of War: The Mahabharata Paradigm

 
Brigadier G.D. Bakshi (Author)
Synopsis

The Mahabharata is the primary source book of Indian military thought and tradition. It is truly an index of civilisational development and constitutes the Indian "Weltanschuung". Over two millenniums ago it outlined an attrition oriented Indian paradigm of war that was primarily centered on a pure "force on force" regime. The Indian armies of that period had evolved from the two basic arms of the early Vedic period (infantry and chariots) to a highly sophisticated four arms structure comprising chariots, elephants, cavalry and infantry. Surprisingly, this military organisational format was to remain constant in India till almost the tenth century A.D. The chariots were the prize arm of that Mahabharata era. The Mahabharata mentions Vyuhas or battle arrays and battle drills that coordinated the actions of these four variable speed manoeuver masses on the battlefield. The prime aim was destruction and annihilation of the enemy through systematic attrition. Surprisingly, this Vyuhas methodology has great relevance for the modern mechanized forces, which need to synergies the actions of all arms teams in the form of combat groups and teams. The Mahabharata constitutes an Indian paradigm of war that is based on attrition and annihilation in pure force on force engagement. Alexanders invasion led to a clash of the Indian and Greek civilisations. In response to the mobility paradigm of the Greeks, Kautilya transformed the Indian art of war into a more mobile form based on the massed employment of war elephants, Kautilya became the worlds first Grand Master of Information War. However this was a brief interlude of brilliance and Indians soon regressed to the attrition paradigm of the Mahabharata. This paradigm remains the archetypal Indian form of war. In this book an attempt has been made to take an objective look at the military content of the Mahabharata. It has been studied in relation to the development of military art in Sun Tzu’s China—a civilization of matching scale and antiquity. Some years ago American scholars like George Tanham and Stephen P. Rosen had essayed forth in quest of an historic Indian strategic culture or an Indian way of war. They concluded sadly that there was none. This book differs radically. It insists that there is an Indian paradigm of war and the Mahabharata epic provides us a clear insight into this historical Indian way of war. An understanding of this racial inheritance is critical if modern India is to evolve its own military theories and doctrines that suit its innate cultural genius. A systematic study of the military content of the Mahabharata is therefore a prime need of the hour and hopefully, in the coming years, indologists will focus their research efforts in this fascinating field.

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About the author

Brigadier G.D. Bakshi

Brigadier G D Bakshi, VSM is a graduate of the National Defence Academy. He did his early schooling from St. Aloysius School Jabalpur. He holds a Masters degree in Defence Science and an M.Phil in Defence and Strategic Studies from the University of Madras. He taught for three years each at the Indian Military Academy Dehradun, and the prestigious Defence Services Staff College at Wellington. He is an Associate Member of the Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis and is a prolific writer on matters military. He has authored six books and written several papers for prestigious defence journals which include the Strategic Analysis and Indian Defence Review. He has done two tenures at the prestigious Directorate General of Military Operations at New Delhi. He commanded his unit in Kargil and was awarded the Vishist Seva Medal in 1991. Currently, he is commanding a Rashtriya Rifles Sector in J&K. In this book he brings to bear his thirty years of military study and experience to an analysis of the military content of the Mahabharata Epic. The central theme of this book is the assertion that there is an historic Indian Strategic Culture and today we need to rediscover these historical roots of our military inheritance.

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Bibliographic information

Title The Indian Art of War: The Mahabharata Paradigm
Format Hardcover
Date published: 01.01.2002
Edition 1st ed.
Language: English
isbn 8185616817
length xii+164p., Figures; Tables; Bibliography, Index; 25cm.